The Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN) says it is committed to mobilising political parties and aspirants at both state and federal levels to ensure enhanced water, sanitation and hygiene services across the country.
NEWSAN National Coordinator, Mr Attah Benson, reaffirmed the society’s commitment at NEWSAN Stakeholders Forum for the Review of 2023 WASH Charter of Demand on Thursday in Abuja.
Benson said that in 2023, the organisation convened to create the WASH Pledge Card, a tool employed to engage political parties and aspirants in the lead-up to the 2023 General Elections.
He said the endeavour yielded positive results; with political entities enthusiastically signing the pledge cards.
The national coordinator said it marked the first national-level exercise of its kind in Nigeria’s WASH sector.
Benson said that the encouraging response received showcased a growing understanding of the importance and benefits of WASH programmess in enhancing citizens’ lives, health, and overall national development.
He invited parties and aspirants who missed last year’s opportunity to join other WASH champions; further amplifying the campaign for sustainable WASH implementation.
Highlighting the pressing need, Benson reminded attendees of the challenges posed by open defecation and insufficient access to sanitation services.
He quoted the 2021 WASHNORM survey report which revealed that 48 million people in Nigeria still practiced open defecation, with only 46 per cent of the total population having access to basic sanitation services.
Benson addressed the impact of climate change on health and sanitation systems; emphasising the urgent need for integration into WASH strategies.
He stressed the potential economic benefits of improved WASH facilities and services, including poverty reduction, job creation, and healthcare cost savings.
The national coordinator urged sustained efforts to address global WASH concerns, emphasising the provision of water, safe disposal of human waste, and the maintenance of hygienic conditions to safeguard public health.
A Representative from the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, Mrs Ayaba Kogbara, emphasised the need for concerted effort to improve citizens’ well-being through enhanced access WASH services.
Highlighting the primary objective of the day, Kogbara urged all stakeholders to revisit their roles and commitments made during the pre-2023 general elections meeting.
Kogbara acknowledged advancements but pointed out persistent challenges.
She said millions of people nationwide still lack access to safe WASH facilities, posing risks to health and dignity, urging stakeholders to intensify efforts and devise innovative solutions to address these pressing issues.
Kogbara envisioned a path leading to continuous enhancement of citizens’ well-being and the realisation of the fundamental human right to water and sanitation.
Mr Jose Gesti, who represented Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) Climate Action, highlighted the significant concern surrounding the heightened impact of climate changes on water and sanitation.
Gesti said that Nigeria, as a signatory to the Paris Agreement, must actively seek ways to mitigate these impacts by reducing emissions.
He pointed out that the effects were directly and indirectly affecting communities, urging the need for prioritised climate financing for the WASH sector.
He outlined key objectives for addressing climate impacts in WASH, emphasising the importance of ensuring sustainable, safe, and resilient WASH facilities and services.
Gesti stressed the role of resilient WASH systems in contributing to community resilience and adaptation to the impacts of climate change.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the event, supported by SWA, served as a platform for stakeholders’ collaboration and action to encourage prioritisation for WASH programmes across the nation.